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2012-04-18 / Columnists

Pets Pets Pets

The road to rescue can be indirect. Call it “peripheral placement.” One rescued pet can pave the way for another needy animal to be noticed and helped. Charting their cause and effect relationships would make a great visual display.

When I taught third grade, my students and I would fill the blackboard with cause and effect chains, illustrating how one event sparked more events while analyzing fictional plots or historical sequences. We could have drawn similar chalk chains to chart adoptions or improvements in pets’ quality of life. Here are four recent situations where intervention had a profound impact on additional pets. Please get your chalk ready:

** Michaela’s legacy: Readers may remember Michaela, the late Afghan Hound found as a neglected stray in NJ last month wearing a purple coat over her mound of mats. (See online “Pets” Beacon 3/29 /12.) She succumbed to the ravages of a pervasive infection despite the best of foster and veterinary care.

The eclectus parrot The eclectus parrot While Bonnie (Babylon Shelter emeritus) and I were at the NJ shelter to adopt Michaela, we learned of a plucked eclectus parrot from an eviction. Bonnie offered to take the parrot because she rehabs birds but the eclectus hadn’t been signed over yet. Since it’s hard to find a home for a bald bird, Bonnie went back several weeks later. While at the shelter, she called about Bella, a Chihuahua who had been abandoned in a dog park on a freezing night with a note and bags of supplies, including, of all things, a life jacket. She wanted to know if Last Hope would take Bella.

By coincidence, the NJ shelter director had already told me about Bella. Bonnie drove home with the bald parrot and dumped dog. Sweet Bella was at Last Hope 10 minutes before getting a wonderful adoption application. Stress caused the parrot to pull out wing and chest feathers. Time and TLC will tell if these grow back. He repeatedly says “hello” although he doesn’t know that he is scheduled for a blind date with a female eclectus to see if they are compatible. Bonnie is his matchmaker.

Gyro chained to a stump Gyro chained to a stump **TornadoCat:AKentuckyBeagleBrigadehasacattothank for saving their lives. Last Hope already pulls from rural states, mostly Kentucky, where shelters are overflowing with dogs that stand no chance there but are highly adoptable here. The tornados last month made a bad situation much worse. Displaced pets poured into packed shelters, so Last Hope committed to several Kentucky cats. The regular transport “forgot” one, so later Last Hope president Linda hired a private transport to bring the cat to a NJ meeting spot. When she learned that surplus Beagles were in grave danger at the same shelter, she arranged for a tri-colored trio to hitch a ride with the left behind cat.

** Gyro: I belong to the West Virginia (WV) transport and arrange for additional rural dogs to come to Last Hope in Wantagh. It is an honor to work with such a dedicated and knowledgeable network fighting an uphill battle in their home counties. Some WV areas have no municipal shelters, instead mandatory euthanasia. Most WV shelters have very short hold periods so the rescuers try to intervene before dogs are turned over to animal control. We have been so impressed by the temperaments of these WV waifs despite their ordeals. Dogs are regarded as useless property rather than family members. Bingo was tethered to fire debris for over a year; Dana was tied to a woodenboxonamountaintop...younevermetsuchlovingdogs.

Gyro was a Lab mix chained a year to a stump without shelter. Carol, a volunteer for Pendleton Animal Welfare (PAWS) does community outreach trying to educate WV locals about humane pet care. (She is a transplanted vet tech from NJ.) PAWS provides free vet care and spay/neuter. When Carol has a rescue commitment, she tries to convince owners to surrender chained or neglected dogs to PAWS. Unfortunately, she has taken multiple dogs from the same families.

Last Hope planned to take Gyro. Receiving shelters pay to have vaccines and neuter done before transport. Gyro had never been to a vet. There were no foster homes available so after his vetting, he went into boarding until the next transport. He got sick there- something I attribute to the “familiar germs” paradox. Similar scenarios happen with hoarder dogs all the time. They can be together in deplorable condition, but stay relatively healthy. As soon as a rescue intervenes, grooms, vets and houses them with unfamiliar dogs, they get sick. You can’t win.

Gyro moved to a clinic in WV run by husband/wife veterinarians. The Lab developed pneumonia. He refused to eat. His condition became precarious. The kind vet hand fed him. Eventually the antibiotics kicked in, and his strength returned. We were worried that he may not be allowed on a transport, but then a miracle happened.

The WV veterinarians decided to adopt Gyro. He now lives with their two young children and two Beagles; and to add to the joy, Carol was finally able to convince Gyro’s former owners to relinquish another dog who had been chained in the same yard for 10 years. Yes, ten years. The liberated Shepherd rode on a transport to a Maryland group called Dogs Deserve Better, where a volunteer promised that “D-O-G” would spend the rest of his days in comfort with him.

**Pearl and Porter: In another WV yard, Pearl, a Beagle mix puppy, was born to a Beagle on a chain, and then chained herself. Porter showed up and was added to the collection like a canine charm bracelet. Porter and Pearl were surrendered to Carol from PAWS before coming to Last Hope last fall. Carol got the three remaining chained hounds spayed.

Despite pet pep talks, every time she drove by, the dogs were still chained. A week ago, Carol was stunned to see a 10 x 20 chain link kennel with individual doghouses, and the Beagles and Basset romping freely inside it. Though responsible owners would prefer to see dogs living inside, the lonely Hounds now can cuddle on cold nights.

Carol wrote: “When looking at this as a whole, I feel that Last Hope had a big part in getting the three remaining dogs off chains too, due to taking in two of the five. I wanted to pass along my thanks for these three dogs’ better life now. The owners would never have had the funding to buy the kennel while still feeding five dogs. Nor would they have put five dogs in a kennel. You know how Hounds just love the companionship of other Hounds so they are one happy doggie family now.

Please let the others at Last Hope know how much impact your work has on dogs remaining in WV too, even long after the dogs Last Hope has taken in from PAWS have been adopted!”

Carol gives us too much credit. Her constant presence made this happen. PAWS and Last Hope share interlocking chains in the rescue cause and effect diagram. Chalk that up to longdistance cooperation.

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